Data Maintenance: Enhance your direct mail strategy in time for the holidays

Drive Holiday Sales with Direct Mail

In a previous blog, I discussed the impact of multi-channel communications and how email, when combined with direct mail, can boost response and conversion rates. Many retailers overlook the power of direct mail, but a winning strategy could easily provide a significant return on investment, especially during the holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, postal services deliver around 2.5 billion pieces of First-Class Mail, including greetings and well wishes from friends and family. U.S. consumers purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards each year, generating $7 billion-$8 billion in annual sales. At these times, consumers open their mail with anticipation, making them more receptive to every direct mail delivery, including your holiday campaigns.

The Case for a Holiday Catalog

Holiday catalogs, a nostalgic favorite for many shoppers, are a cost-effective, strategy with four strong advantages:

  1. No opt-in requirements or adblockers to stop your message from being delivered.
  2. Physical ads have repeat viewing potential and leave a longer-lasting impact for easy recall
  3. Direct mail bypasses digital noise to increase engagement and create stronger brand associations.
  4. More likely to be shared with other members of the household

Catalogs keep you top-of-mind with consumers, often remaining in the household for long periods as family members browse at their own leisure. Indeed, mail marketing has a longer-lasting effect than online ads or emails. In the U.S, research shows that the average length of timekeeping catalogs is 20.3 days. 27% of UK consumers still keep mail within a household after twenty-eight days, creating increased potential for driving sales. In fact, 72% of people said that catalogs make them more interested in that retailer’s products, and 84% have purchased an item after seeing it in a catalog. Even more, 15% of people who received advertising mail from e-retailers (51%) visited the retailer’s website as a result.

The numbers speak for themselves, however, creating a successful catalog requires planning, organization, and creativity. It also relies heavily on data preparation and analysis to segment the customer base and ensure the right catalog is sent to the right person or household.

Tis-the-season for data maintenance

When using direct mail to target your customers, personalization is vital, and therefore dependent on accurate, clean, and up-to-date data, affecting both the efficiency of the data process and analytics, but also deliverability.

Customer data quality, therefore, needs to be maintained and this should be part of an ongoing data strategy. DMA survey stated that 62% felt the most important aspect of data strategy was data quality. Whilst this is recognized by businesses, data quality can be overlooked. Therefore prior to sending out a catalog, brochure or direct mailer this holiday season please consider the following:

Collect and maintain accurate address data

The starting point on the data quality journey is addresses and zip codes. Ensuring that you have the correct address is vital. All the effort and energy put into creating a catalog is wasted if it does not reach its intended target. Cleansing the address, standardizing the components, and adding important attributes like zip+4 improve delivery.

Furthermore, people move, and so running data through the National Change of Address (NCOA) file is also an important consideration. To put that into context, the Postal Service processes 121,452 address changes daily. That amounts to 44m addresses a year, and according to Census data, nearly 31 million people moved in the United States in 2019.

This means that 75m people and addresses are potentially incorrect, approximately 20% of the American population. Therefore, in a catalog mailing of 500, 000 records where the addresses have not been cleansed within 12 months, 100, 000 catalogs are at risk of not reaching their destination. This has a significant impact on revenue and marketing metrics.

Remove duplicate customer data

Data quality is also important when it comes to duplicates. Sending the same catalog multiple times to the same household is costly and confusing to the individual. It is estimated by Oracle, that 20% to 40% of all customer records within an organization are duplicates, costing between $20 to $100 per duplicate annually!

Meet data compliance requirements

Finally, in these sensitive times, it is expedient to suppress your data against deceased and do-not-mail lists. And that brings me to my final point. Compliance! It is becoming increasingly important to ensure data is compliantly used, not only because of the mistrust it creates with your customers but also in relation to the size of the potential fines and negative sentiment it generates.

To summarize, the premise behind data quality is simple and the impact is significant, so to increase brand awareness and drive holiday sales, consider how we can help you review your customer data before your next direct mail campaign. Learn more about how data quality impacts your business efficiency and reputation here.